A LESSER KNOWN AROMATIC HERB THAT WE CAN TRY IN THE GARDEN
There are dozens of spices and aromatic herbs that we use daily in our dishes. However, there are others that we are not used to having and can give us another perspective of flavors and aromas. Today we bring you sorrel ( Rumex acetosa ). A very little used plant in Spain. Do you test it?
The sorrel ( Rumex acetosa ) is also known as vinegar or Agrilla. Both the scientific name and the various commons give us clues. It’s not sweet, that’s for sure. All the names are put by something and in this case, the acid flavor is the protagonist . Sorrel is a rustic plant of approximately half a meter and with large, lanceolate leaves. Its origin is European and Asian growing in humid areas mainly as grasslands, near swamps and forest areas.
CULINARY AND NON-CULINARY USES
It has had more culinary success in areas of Eastern Europe than in Spain for example. Sorrel soup is part of Russian, Polish or Ukrainian cuisines . French gastronomy uses it with some assiduity. Its use is very common in soups —as we have already mentioned—, creams and fish.
Long ago, sorrel has been used to remove rust and grease stains due to the amount of oxalic acid whose salt (potassium oxalate) helps remove these stains. Of course, they were unaware of the compound itself but were perfectly aware of its effect. Today we find this compound as part of the formulation of commercial stain removers .
The compound that causes this acid taste of the plant is also due to oxalic acid and due to its high concentration, it is not recommended for people with kidney problems or sensitivity.
IF YOU WANT TO TRY YOUR LUCK WITH SORREL IN THE GARDEN, WE WILL TELL YOU HOW
It is a simple plant to grow and does not give problems. I would say that we will even have to control its expansion as we neglect ourselves.
It is from temperate and humid climates . In Spain it is easily found in the north of the peninsula. The severe, typically continental winter cold is not very advisable and it should be protected from the cold if you want to have a leaf all year round. In hot southern climates it can be somewhat more difficult due to the plant’s need for water, which requires a constant moist soil as we will now see.
Its natural habitat is humid soils with an acidic pH , typical of humid forested areas and close to natural water courses. Therefore, a fresh, slightly acidic soil with regular water supplies is needed to maintain a constant humidity level.
If you want to know the pH of your soil at home, check it out here.
- The planting can be done in spring or autumn . If it is done in this last season, we must bear in mind that the first frosts must appear a month and a half or two months after sowing so that the plant does not have problems.
- Leaves should be cut even if they are not consumed to favor new shoots .
- Flowering goes unnoticed and when it occurs, the leaves cease to have gastronomic value. The flower buds must be cut to favor the growth of the leaf, which is the part that interests us.
HARVESTING AND CONSERVATION OF SORREL
At 3 months after sowing fresh leaves can begin to be collected. Sorrel is one of those plants whose leaves must be eaten fresh . That is why we will not find spice jars with dried sorrel.